Once Upon A Time

I love those four words.  I love opening a new book, and the excitement of plunging into another world, hoping the author gives me a first-class tour.  I am a literary concierge because I love helping other people have that experience too.  I recommend books to friends based on personalities, past book preferences and sometimes, a sense that they might enjoy exploring a new area.

And, of course, I love finding new authors and books myself.  I discovered several mystery authors at the Key West Literary Seminar (what better place to be in January?).  In addition to seeing, and sometimes meeting, authors whose books I already read, such as Michael Connelly, Elizabeth George and Gillian Flynn, I saw authors who intrigued me enough that I added their books onto my to-read list, authors like Malla Nunn, William Kent Krueger and Attica Locke.

In the spirit of paying it forward, here’s a post from In Reference To Murder, listing some book recommendation sites that may help in finding that perfect next book.  And for those in central Virginia in March, the Virginia Festival of the Book is another opportunity to discover new authors.  I’ll be moderating two panels at the Festival; it’s a great event.

The Art of Short Fiction

Writing is a solitary occupation, but magic can happen when writers get together. I’m hoping for some of that magic on Friday, September 6 in Leesburg.

I’ve been invited to speak at the Writer’s Center’s monthly First Friday event, along with journalist Sue Allison.  We’ll be talking about short fiction and, in Sue’s case, short nonfiction. For more information about the event, see the Writer’s Center event link under Quick Links.

Writing Away in Margaritaville

Some days I want to brainstorm with other writers. Some days I just want to relax with a margarita. But at the Key West Literary Seminar, I get to do both.

Read more about the seminar in my post on the Writer House blog.

Invisible Women

People notice dead women… that’s the first line of my short story, “Invisible Women,” published in this week’s issue of The Hook.  I’m proud to see my story published in The Hook and I hope you enjoy reading it!  http://www.readthehook.com/104706/invisible-women

This Job Is Murder

I’m pleased to announce that my short story, A Grain of Truth, is included in the new Sisters in Crime anthology, Chesapeake Crimes: This Job Is Murder.  The story idea came to me when I was researching methods of murder on the Internet for one of my mysteries.  It occurred to me that anyone seeing my computer browsing history would be very suspicious.  In the story, a writer’s browsing history leads to her being suspected of murder.

The book launch last weekend, at One More Page books in Arlington, was a blast – lots of wonderful readers and writers.  The anthology is available from Wildside Press and should be on Amazon soon.

Thank You, John Grisham

I’m thrilled to announce that contest judge John Grisham selected my story, “Invisible Women,” as the third place winner in The Hook’s 2012 fiction contest!  Details here:  http://www.readthehook.com/103028/fiction-2012-winners.  The Hook will publish the story some time this summer.  Stay tuned for updates.

A Writer’s Life

When friends learn that I write mysteries, they often ask what it’s like. I suspect they imagine me curled up in an armchair in a cozy library, surrounded by hardbound copies of the classics, fingertips on a laptop keyboard effortlessly creating pithy phrases and creative plot twists.

Alas, it is not so. The cozy library, at least, is a possibility. The effortless creation, not so much.

So what is it really like? It’s hard, it’s frustrating and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

One comfort for me in the more frustrating moments is knowing I’m not alone. Two of my favorite books on writing not only give constructive advice, but reassure me by reminding me that all writers struggle with their writing.

Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird talks about her writing insecurities in the context of her personal struggles as a single mother: “Your work as a writer… will periodically make you feel like the single parent of a three-year-old…Toddlers can make you feel as if you have violated some archaic law in their personal Koran and you should die, infidel. Other times they’ll reach out and touch you like adoring grandparents…”

Stephen King’s On Writing is essentially an autobiography, in which he admits his weaknesses (alcohol) and failures (numerous early rejections). When he was writing Carrie, he said: “If I ever came close to despairing about my future as a writer, it was then. I could see myself thirty years on, wearing the same shabby tweed coats with patches on the elbows, potbelly rolling over my Gap khakis from too much beer… and, in my desk drawer, six or seven unfinished manuscripts which I would take out and tinker with from time to time, usually when drunk.”

I’ve had moments when I question why I write. But there are times when a great idea that’s been knocking around my head finally becomes words on the page. And those times make it all worthwhile.

Now back to the armchair in my library.

-Leone